6 valuable web monitoring tips for effective social listening

Written by Keith Errington  |  26, November, 2014  |  2 Comments

social-listeningThe first task of any social media day – whether it’s your first step into social media or you are an old hand – should always be listening – monitoring the conversation.

Now there are many choices of software for monitoring social networks, blogs and news – from simple free tools, to highly sophisticated and highly expensive intelligence gathering systems – but they all share one thing in common; they are so often used just to spot simple mentions of a brand, product or organisation.

This is a criminal waste of software and fails to make use of the huge business intelligence resource that the Internet represents.

Here are six web monitoring tips to improve your social listening:

1. Brand monitoring

Monitoring mentions of the organisation/brand/product

Let's start with the most obvious, and as mentioned above, often the only use of these tools – setting up your monitoring systems to check for mentions of your organisation so you see how you are perceived in the world, receive candid feedback about your performance and get an idea of any change over time.

With a brand or product you can see the effects of marketing on the volume of conversations and gauge the empathy towards the product.

If you have a tool that can tag sentiment and assess whether posts are positive, negative, neutral or mixed in feeling towards your brand or product, marking that over time, it can alert you to dramatic changes of sentiment, potentially identifying situations calling for crisis management.

Monitoring setup: keywords, traffic, sentiment.

Outcomes: Board reporting, marketing decisions, crisis early warning system, strategy adjustment.

2. Customer service

Monitoring complaints about a product or service

By focussing the monitoring on comments about your product and service you can pick up customer service issues in time to deal with them.

Social media can be particularly effective in identifying issues early, before they are picked up by mainstream news services.

It is also able to address influential individual’s problems – bloggers and celebrities – high profile people with lots of followers, who have a broad span of influence.

Do this well, and those same individuals will tell the social world what good service you have.

Bear in mind though, that there are still some customers who only post to Twitter and blogs if they have tried your conventional customer service channels and failed to get a response or found it difficult to find or interact with those channels.

So listening to social media is not a substitute for a conventional, efficient, customer service – on the other hand, it will pick up those that fall through the cracks or naturally head to Twitter before anything else.

Be aware that at the time an individual is posting to Twitter or blogs, they are probably disgruntled – and prompt, bold, affirmative action will be needed to placate them.

Finally, it is no good having an excellent listening service if you don’t have the logistics and resources to sort out the problems you find.

Monitoring setup: keywords, sentiment

Outcomes: Better customer service, free PR

3. Competitors

Keeping an eye on what your competitors are up to

If you monitor competitor activities in social media you may get an idea of how they are perceived in your market. It’s possible to discover how people perceive the difference between you and whether they see unique points about your product or service.

This helps you to hone your product placement and marketing messages, it can help you create a point of difference with those competitors if neccassery, or produce material that correct any misconceptions about your product or service.

You can get an idea of the authority of your brand versus your competitor’s and then either reinforce this, or work on it, if it’s an issue.

You can see how they deal with customer service issues, what initiatives they are launching and build a picture of their marketing activities.

Knowing all this allows you to concentrate your organisation’s resources in areas where they will make the most impact.

On a positive note, you could also use monitoring to identify partnership opportunities and areas where there may be some profitable synergy in working with your competitors on a project.

Monitoring setup: keywords, sentiment

Outcomes: market perception, product positioning, competitor intelligence, partnership opportunities

4. Prospects

Identifying prospects and qualifying them

This is a simple enough concept, using social media monitoring to identify prospects and their activity.

When you are talking to new prospects you can use the monitoring systems you have to qualify them, and the insights you gain can align your proposition with their objectives and show them you understand their business.

Monitoring setup: keywords

Outcomes: New business

5. Clients

Knowing what your clients are up to

Using monitoring to keep track of your client’s activities means you can learn of further opportunities and build on relationships by interacting with them and carrying on conversations online.

Monitoring setup: keywords

Outcomes: Sales opportunities, customer loyalty

6. Environmental Scanning

Keeping up with what is going on in the environment within which your organisation operates.

Using monitoring in a more general way allows you to keep track of industry issues and news.

This will help you identify opportunities and highlight threats – giving you valuable insights when planning strategy or launching new initiatives.

Monitoring setup: keywords, RSS feeds, influencers

Outcomes: Aware of environment, grasp opportunities, avoid threats


As you can see by this list, monitoring tools are not just for brand mentions but can be used for a wide variety of beneficial purposes – giving you maximum return on your software investment and mining the Internet for really useful business intelligence. A great starting point is with the Hubspot software.


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